In the continued battle for search supremacy and the advertising dollars rewarded to the champion, Bing has added Twitter and Facebook to their team. Microsoft plans to announce a deal with the popular social media duo to integrate Tweets and Facebook status updates and more into their search engines’ results pages (SERPs).
Search engines have been challenged in keeping up with the fast paced Tweets and status updates, due to the fact that it requires frequent crawls by their bots in order to keep their index up to date. This springs’ announcement of Google Caffeine, which warranted our providing a well received complimentary webinar, to discuss its impact on SEO, afforded Google the infrastructure to rapidly update their index and provide fresh data in their SERPs. The social media duo has provided application program interfaces (APIs) for developers to poll and mine their public facing data, and webmasters have been leveraging these tools to provide social media content on their websites in hopes of keeping visitors on their site and generating revenue from sales or leads. For some websites, such as sports, entertainment and popular culture, these streaming social updates are a key component to successfully engaging their audience. The search engines have recognized this and have reacted to the growing popularity of social media.
Bings’ deal goes beyond status updates and leverages Facebooks’ Instant Personalization. The flow of information from Facebook to Bing will be in one direction, so the privacy of one’s searches will be protected and not exposed on Facebook. Soon when one searches Bing, the search engine will not only use its mathematical algorithm to determine relevancy for its SERPs, but will include their personal connections’ opinions as expressed by Facebook “shares” and “likes” of websites. This social-centric search will be helpful to some and a distraction to others. We will be tracking the success of this initiative as measured by market share of searches Bing is able to gain going forward, in order to keep our customers up to date and exposed to opportunities that will increase their return on advertising spend.
I look forward to learning more about this partnership and will be keeping my eye out for data concerning how ad targeting may be affected. Could I begin to see relevant ads in Bing SERPs based on my Facebook data? What if I searched Bing for pet supplies, such as catnip, and I find an ad for former Rat Dog guitarist Mark Karan playing at a local watering hole “Funky Buddha Lounge & Brewery”, all based on public data found within my Facebook account concerning my favorite bands and affinity for brew pubs? I sure wouldn’t be upset to be exposed to this additional information while searching for Crosby or Jerry’s, our cats, catnip.
I, like most cost conscious consumers, love loyalty or reward programs, and easily achievable rewards are on the top of my list. Thankfully, my family’s favorite restaurant offers a nice 10% discount. Couple this fact with an award winning brew master and I’m more likely to agree to their request to eat out. Here at MoreVisibility we rotate responsibility for bringing in bagels, so why not frequent the shop that provides me with a free dozen after purchasing twelve. I simple present my card at time of check out and they stamp the next number on the card until I have filled up, and then the dozen is free.
A new e-loyalty system is now in its infancy and growing in popularity, using Foursquare’s application for smart phones. Foursquare combines social networking and location by awarding users that “check in” at bars, restaurants and other business via their smart phone. The application leverages your smart phone’s GPS and allows participants to identify where they are via checking-in. If the location exists and is participating in the program the person checking-in may be accumulating loyalty points they can use for goods or services offered by the business. If the business is not participating, the person checking-in can leave a “tip” for others using Foursquare to read up on and possibly drive traffic for the business. Becoming the Mayor of a particular store is a title you earn via having more visits in a period of time than any other “friend” also using Foursquare. You may lose your title of Mayor to one of your friends who learned about the business and Foursquare would let you know that via email. Competition between your friends could easily escalate. For instance the “Mayor” of the local ice cream shop, may also be in running to be the “Mayor” of the local gym.
Considering the huge adoption in smart phones, it makes sense for firms to consider using Foursquare’s service for promoting their goods and services. The hospitality industry folks are going to lead the early adaptors, since it provides a trendy method to promote their goods and services and allows for an inexpensive way to create a buzz. In today’s tough economy any marketing initiative that rewards your customers with discounts and freebies will be a winner. The process to “claim” your business and join is straightforward. If you know your customers’ demographic includes these early technology adaptors, get started with the latest loyalty program and see ‘em “check-in”.
The Wall Street Journals’ All Things Digital Technology Conference (D8) held yesterday included an interview with Facebooks’ Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg. Some would say that Mr. Zuckerberg had to sweat out the interview, he actual shed his trademark hoodie, and mostly avoided answering the tough questions concerning privacy from Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. One thing we did learn was that imprinted on the inside of the infamous hoodie Mr. Zuckerberg wears is the Facebook mission statement, “Making the World More Open and Connected”.
During the interview the opt-out versus opt-in of privacy settings on Facebook was brought up. I think we all have been caught off guard by Facebooks’ updates and sharing of information we had no intention of making public. I, like Mr. Mossberg, would prefer to opt-in to new social plug-ins which will share my information across websites. Additionally, I think a simple opt-in panel is easily accomplished in any programming language and does not create unnecessary friction as Mr. Zuckerberg attempted to base his stance on opt-out versus opt-in. With regard to privacy settings, Mr. Zuckerberg did say, “We recommend you share only with your friends all your really sensitive stuff.”
The reach of Facebook is impressive, and the dedicated merchants that have set up an e-commerce store on their fan pages are beginning to bloom. The key to their success is that they are dedicated to the cause and have put in the time and effort to build a following. These businesses have allocated a marketing budget and resources to monitor the ever-changing privacy rules and to answer their fan’s inquires in a timely fashion. Running an e-commerce site on a fan page is definitely a dual edged sword that can provide merchants’ with incremental sales, at the expense of having to be quick in response to customer comments or complaints. It is very easy for an upset consumer to blast away about your goods or services on your wall, which requires the merchant to provide a much higher level of customer service.